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There’s just no comparison between a foreclosure or walk-away from a $5.4 billion Manhattan 56-building complex and a defaulted loan on a small retail space in a strip mall.

That’s one way to look at how mega banks and other lenders are grappling with the commercial real estate downturn compared to the business that credit unions do on a much denser scale. For the past year, economists and mortgage trade groups have been watching the CRE sector, predicting that while its losses may not be on the same level as the residential housing bust, the shortfall could further hamper efforts toward a recovery.

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